Parrot and winter blues


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The winter blues

Parrot and winter blues, in our latitudes, is not an easy season for anyone. The weather is dreary, the days pass like the wind, it’s cold and the outings to the outdoors gradually decrease and end up being completely non-existent ( at least, here in Quebec ). It is also not an easy season for our little feathered friends who share our sedentary lifestyle. Every year, year in and year out, from mid-autumn until the end of winter, I receive several calls and letters from people overwhelmed by the sudden changes in attitude on the part of their parrot.

There are several reasons for these changes in behavior on the part of birds, but what seems most evident over the years is the change in attitudes of humans themselves towards their birds during this time. Let me explain.

Like many animal species, humans are sensitive to seasonal variations in the intensity of daylight. Many people experience sudden changes in mood, trouble concentrating, or have difficulty getting up in the morning. When these changes appear in the fall or winter, this syndrome is called “the winter blues”.

The winter blues

The winter blues are also called the DAS or sub-DAS subsyndrome. The latter is a milder variant of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or winter depression. The lack of light generates the secretion of too much melatonin, and it seems that it is this hormone, produced by the epiphysis, which is at the origin of our weariness and our need for sleep.

The winter blues usually arrive during low-light periods from September through March. More than 60% of the population can be affected by these symptoms while only 2% suffer from deep winter depression, having the same symptoms, but in a more severe form.

As I have often explained, the parrot is a very empathetic animal that most of the time will reflect your tensions or those of the social group ( your family ) and react accordingly. So, the ambient mood greatly influences the parrot’s behavior: impatience, mood swings, melancholy, etc.

Even if the parrot has its own personality and its own moods, like all highly social creatures, it will be influenced by the energies which circulate around it and will not be satisfied to imitate the facial expressions of its humans; it will act and react squarely according to their moods or respond strongly to their body language.

The winter blues

There is therefore a risk that changes in your bird’s behavior come directly from your own mood fluctuations …

The solution to winter’s lack of light is very simple: in the case of humans: go play outside!
A healthy walk, a beautiful sunny afternoon with a wonderful winter sun is beneficial for both your physique and your morale. You will come away relaxed and happy, and your parrot will enthusiastically follow you down this path. Likewise, there is phototherapy ( Greek root ), or light therapy ( Latin root): both have the same meaning, which can help you overcome the phenomena of seasonal depression. A phototherapy session lasts an average of 30 minutes. You just need to expose yourself in front of a light therapy lamp of around 10,000 lux at a distance of between 30 and 50 cm to enjoy its benefits.

Talk to your doctor or therapist.

The winter blues

When it comes to our parrots, we don’t have a lot of choices, there is only light therapy. It suffices to expose them for a few hours a day to an intense white light whose spectrum is very close to that of daylight ( Vita-Lite, Philips, Tru-Bloom, Feather Brite, etc. ).

Ask your pet store for what’s available on the market. My bird’s room is permanently lit with broad-spectrum neon lights ( Vita-Lite ), and the mood is always good! Give your parrots their share of white daylight and everyone will be in heaven!


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Amanda